Osho Copyright, Trademark and the Right to Copy

Through the years I have followed many discussions concerning Osho and the copyrights of his discourses. Many of these discussions have been filled with venom. And recently these discussions seemed to have reached a new level of ugliness. And a lot of this ill feeling is being stoked by those who should know better.

From 1981 to 1986 I worked with the books both on the road selling to bookstores and distributors all across the United States and Canada and also when back at the ranch in Buddhaghosha which was the department that took care of selling and warehousing all of Osho’s books. Many friends worked in this office including Swami Chaitanya Keerti, Ma Dharma Jyoti, and two of Osho’s brothers; Amit and Shailendra.

One of the jobs that was done from that office was the sending of copies of Osho’s books to the United States Copyright Office, the Library of Congress and for receiving ISBN numbers. Every one of Osho’s books was sent to be registered for copyright protection.

Interestingly enough, by law in the United States, it is not even necessary to send copies of works for copyright because they are automatically protected once they have been produced but it does add a layer of protection in case there is ever any question as to who is the holder of such copyright.

In these discussions that can be seen on the internet, there are those who claim that Osho never wanted his works to be copyright protected. But they do so only by ignoring the obvious. You can look inside every book that was produced in Poona and see Copyright, Rajneesh Foundation. Every one of the booklets that I have seen from the days before the Poona Ashram said, Copyright Jeevan Jagruti Kendra. The copyrights moved from one organization to another always following Osho. When Osho left the United States, a new organization was formed Osho International Foundation and it then became the holder of Osho’s copyrights.

One of our legal friends has argued that when the Ranch ended and the new organization O. I. F. was formed, that because it was such a chaotic time, there was a lapse in making the transfer from one entity to the other and so argues that because of this there is some doubt as to whether it was done properly. Now this may be a clever legal argument but it only highlights the fact that Osho’s works have always been copyrighted. And though, it is possible that there may have been some oversight it is clear that the intent was to transfer the copyrights. I suspect that this is the reason that someone came up with the creative idea to create a will in order to correct this lapse of filing. Now anyone can argue that this was not the most ingenious idea but personally I cannot fault anyone for trying to ensure that the copyright protection continues.

Osho never took the stand that he didn’t want any copyright as did U.G. Krishnamurti. U. G. says clearly that his words are not subject to copyright but Osho has had every one of his works printed with the words Copyright. And personally, I am grateful that he had the foresight to make sure that his words were protected. It would have been much less of an issue while he was in the body, because he could have spoken out, but once gone the only protection against any Tom, Dick or Harry writing nonsense in Osho’s name is the copyright protection.

If one wants to argue about the enforcement of copyright that is another story but to argue that Osho didn’t want his works to be under copyright protection is absurd. Clearly there is a lot of room as to how stringently to enforce. I recently saw that the producers of Wild, Wild Country and Osho International Foundation reached an agreement and that now the documentary states by permission of OIF.

As far as the trademark OSHO, there seems to be a lot of confusion. First of all, there was no trademark granted in the United States but it was upheld in Europe. And it is only the use of all caps OSHO that is trademarked. I am pretty sure that at the time of the ranch the two birds symbol was trademarked.

Now where I have objections is how the trademark law is being applied. There were trademarks while Osho was in the body but I am not aware of them ever being used to control the activities of his meditation centers. But that is a question of management style and there has always been objections to management style. In Poona people objected to the way that Deeksha operated, at the Ranch it was Sheela that was objectionable and these days of course it is the way that Jayesh operates that people find objectionable.

So, I would encourage anyone who wants to object to the workings of the Pune organization, to object honestly. It is a question of agreeing or not agreeing with management decisions and it has nothing to do with such high falutin sounding principles of “Osho never wanted any copyrights.”

Osho could not be clearer than this discourse on the need for copyright protection:

“Now there are many countries…. Just yesterday, a Korean woman was here, and she informed us that more than thirty of my books are translated into Korean, and thousands of copies are available in all the bookstalls all over the country. We have to take care of things. There are countries which are not members of the Bern Convention: they do not believe in copyright. Korea is one of those that do not believe in copyright, so they can translate any book, publish any book.

But we can at least keep an eye that the translation is done rightly, that the person who is doing the translation understands me. It is not only a question of copyright, it is a question that I should not be presented in a wrong way — which is possible. Because if they are just earning money, who cares whether the translation is right or wrong?

I informed the woman, “You send…” Because we don’t even know: it may be happening in other countries. There are many countries which are not under the copyright convention. But we can help them, we can suggest to them, ”We don’t want any money from you, any royalty from you, but we would like you to represent every book exactly, without any distortion. And in many countries we will have to take publication into our own hands.”

from Light on the Path, Discourse #28

Prem Purushottama

10 thoughts on “Osho Copyright, Trademark and the Right to Copy”

  1. Hi thanks for the info This doesn’t change anything as far as content and distribution through electric media ? I hope not I love getting all your emails and posts Osho was light and transmitted it You know when you here truth and his ability to convey it was true magical and astonishing Peace Love and Aloha Rob

    >

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  2. Blind fool.. you don’t see the obvious, how OIF is abusing trademarks and copyrights to harass sannyasins. They also ban people from the Osho “Resort”.

    Oh, so in 1984, Osho wanted copyrights? Of course, because the money helped fund the Oregon Ranch.

    Newsflash, Osho left the body and we are in 2020 now.

    Did people get banned from the Osho ashram for petty reasons while Osho was alive?

    We are in 2020, not 1984, and the situation is completely different. Osho is no longer with us, and a few greedy money-oriented sannyasins have monopolized Osho’s legacy, have changed it beyond belief by removing Osho and any reference to Sanskrit terms like darshan, ashram, etc.

    Why? Because such terms will scare off the rich professionals they are trying to attract. It’s Osho Resort now and Club Med.
    They say Osho wanted this: but the offer no proof that Osho left such guidance.

    It is the actual opposite: Osho said: Don’t dilute my message. Keep my message pure, 24 karat gold… and wait… people will get it eventually.

    What OIF has done is — dilute Osho’s message as much as possible – and then have the nerve to claim that Osho “wanted this”.
    It’s Club Med now.
    Osho himself needs to be removed from the “Resort”.

    Because, from some reason, if Osho is mentioned – then people will create a religion around it. We need to completely hide and bury Osho… for fear that people will create a religion.
    This is just lies and bullshit! They hide Osho because they want money, they want to attract very rich professionals who go there for a “holiday”.

    If you are simple and innocent, you can see through the lies.

    Things are getting really ugly – because what OIF has been doing is really ugly.

    But somehow you only see the people who criticize the OIF as ugly.

    You don’t see that the criticism is a reaction to the ugly things OIF has been doing in the past 20 years.

    They used to give sannyas by email.
    They stopped that, and gave some bullshit explanation that you can just take sannyas yourself by choosing your name from a list.
    Thousands of people think they have taken sannyas because they chose their name from a list: when in fact they haven’t taken sannyas.

    They lie to people.
    The real reason they don’t give sannyas by email anymore — it that it is not bringing any money. OIF needs to pay the expenses of a few women mediums whose job is to look at the photos and channel sannyas names — and THIS IS NOT BRINGING THE OIF ANY MONEY.

    Oh, Lord! How will they survive?

    They banned the mala in the Resort — because if some very rich professional comes to meditate, he will be freaked out when he sees people wearing Osho’s photo on their neck, and think he is in a cult.

    Read about Rashid’s experience wearing the mala, and his confrontation with Amrito.

    https://www.oshonews.com/2020/02/24/osho-we-your-people/

    The only reason mala is banned — because it will scare off ignorant prejudiced westerners with money.

    Osho made the mala “not compulsory anymore”, but he did not ban it. In fact, immediately afterwards, he criticized people who dropped the mala, like it had been a burden to them.

    There is a long list of ugly things that OIF has done and are still doing, harassing well intentioned sannyasins, banning them.

    They don’t ban insane people, or crazy people who cause disruption. They ban the smartest sannyasins, because they cannot be controlled.

    They don’t sue people who might take Osho’s words out of context to misrepresent them.

    I have never seen anyone who might want to misquote Osho intentionally (besides the media), or someone who might want to change the Osho meditatons.
    These are the people the OIF is supposed to sue, in order to keep Osho’s message pure.

    If someone doesn’t like Osho, they will not try to teach his meditations in a wrong way.
    If someone likes Osho, of course they will try to do the meditations as correctly as possible.

    They are not suing to protect Osho’s message.
    They are actually suing independent, intelligent sannyasins, like Ramateertha from Germany..

    There is a long list of ugly things the OIF has done, yet you don’t mention any of them.

    You have a problem with people who say Osho’s words should not be protected by copyright.

    It’s 2020, Osho is not in the body, things have changed. Is the copyright really needed anymore?

    There is one thing you are not mentioning about the copyright.

    OIF sold the rights to Osho to some New York publishers, who are in fact censoring Osho.

    They only publish compilations, selected quotes from Osho — and that is a form of censorship.

    You pick and choose a few beautiful short passages — and you hide and overlook the more controversial stuff Osho said.

    Osho’s original full length books are not in print anymore.

    What we have is selections of harmless quotes, taken out of context, and made into compilations.

    Isn’t this a way to shut Osho’s mouth up and censor him? You just pick a few harmless quotes and make a compilation book.

    Yet, the OIF has no problem with this at all.

    Funny, when Osho was alive, Rebel Publishing was created because publishers refused to publish Osho’s more controversial statements — so the Osho Foundation had the role to actually protect Osho’s message, make sure every word is published “as is”, without censorship.

    Nowadays, the publishers blatantly and openly censor Osho by only choosing harmless quotes and only publishing compilation books.

    And OIF is perfectly ok with that.

    Look for Osho books on Amazon, you will only find compilations: About Love, About Meditation, etc. etc.

    Osho books on Amazon
    https://www.amazon.com/s?k=osho&ref=nb_sb_noss

    Osho’s messsage is being censored – by picking and choosing some quotes, and discarding all the controversial stuff.

    Yet this is ok for OIF, because they are interested in money – not in preserving Osho’s message “24 karat gold”.

    Why do you not talk about how OIF sold Osho to the highest publisher bidder, and then let that publisher rape Osho, gag him and shut him up.

    I think this is a more grave issue than whether there should be a copyright or not.

    I know why you don’t talk about the OIF. And you know it too.

    Writing this comment, I am anonymous.

    But you are not.

    As soon as you criticize OIF – you are BANNED from the Resort.

    The OIF are good people? Try it!

    Write an article with polite legitimate criticism of the Resort – and you will get banned, even if what you say is true.

    So then don’t tell me the OIF are trying to protect Osho’s message from people who are trying to change Osho’s words.

    Why are they not protecting Osho from the publishers who are censoring Osho, gagging him, hiding the real Osho under the carpet and presenting a sugary diluted version?

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    1. Dharma,
      You have proved my point. Your argument is with management policies, fair enough. But nowhere do you argue that Osho did not want copyright protection, because that would be absurd since everyone of his books state copyright.

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    2. Dear. Osho´s words have had copyrights since the days of Jivan Jagruty kendra, as far back as 1968. No publishing house would publish anything without copyright, because that means anyone can copy and then there is no bussiness. People were banned from the ashram from the very start. petty reasons? sure. Of all sorts. Osho was the one instigating it!

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  3. Hi Puro! Yes, Osho always wanted his words to be under copyright protection. Even before Bombay days any of his books, magazines, they all carried copyright note. There never was any control over the centers, neither is now, but all centers were required to be in tune with Osho’s main place–be it JJK, Mumbai years; Ashram years in Pune 1, Ranch years in US, Back to Pune 2 years and now — otherwise what the center is for? Any center whether in India or abroad falling out of tune was always pulled up for it. Sometimes even in his talks. Being in tune is no slavery. Actually, as i understand it is the real courage and real freedom. One cannot be in tune with Osho’s own place where he finally leaves all his work and dreams of being in tune with the whole of existence or thinks is already in tune with the whole of existence (which actually is the essence of Osho’s work– to fall in tune with the whole), is just laughable.

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    1. Beloved Pratap, Not sure what you are referring to when you say, “but all centers were required to be in tune with Osho’s main place.” I was given the name Devalayam to open a Rajneesh Meditation Center in Kansas City (which is where Kaveesha took sannyas) and was never given any instruction. We just winged it. In fact I used to copy discourse cassettes and sell them (mostly to Kaveesha) in order to help with cost of running the center.

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      1. Beloved Purushottama, if any center started doing something that was not in tune with the basics of Osho vision, and what was happening around him, that was not being in tune. Sooner or later the news about such things used to arrive and such people were advised and corrected. Not to make any changes in meditations, not to move on the lines of becoming a guru, not to misuse the center to make personal monetary gains, if Osho started anything new or made any changes–to adopt those things…..all these simple but significant points are what being in tune is. Significant things are always very simple, as I understand it.

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  4. I do not see any problem as a poor man from a third world country. OSHO’s books, Osho.com ~ Osho Radio ~ OshoTalks/YouTube , etc. are available and it is enough & Copyright matters are not in my hand. But as Osho says somewhere I read, must NOT CHANGE a single spoken word or burn the whole thing.

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  5. Need to retire lovingly present hard working team of 21 or whatever inner circle with appreciation and thanks and find new team of fresh faces elected or selected by all His Centers and their leaders or Sannyasins at large and give our Head Quarter, Pune, the vibrating Energy as good as Pune 1-2 and give present perspiring people hearty send off and keep them in outer circle, so new inner circle can have their wisdom, if and when needed. Thanks 🙏

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  6. Our inner awareness,witnessing is our only guide. So good to be aware of and take responsibility for our mental projections onto Osho’s words and to make sure that we do not “cherry pick” his words-deleting what we do not like and choosing what we do like .The function of copyright is through awareness to ensure that Osho’s words are never distorted by the cunning ego’s wish to avoid being hit by his words!So honesty with ourselves,awareness of our cunning mind is the key,otherwise we may end up with what happened after the Buddha died-over 30 different interpretations of what he was supposed to have said leading to over 30 different sects of Buddhism. I could say much more on this issue but that will do for now!

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